Traditional Barbell Squats and Deadlifts, done in or near the squat rack, stimulate lower- and upper-body size and strength. But to develop pure power and speed, you need Box Squats.
Place the box inside the rack and you’ll be ready to build explosive lower-body power.
- Box (or small portable bench)—not too high or low; your knees/upper thighs should be parallel when your hips touch the box.
- Squat rack
- Water bottle
- Practice proper form using just the bar (without plates) for a dynamic warm-up.
- Place the bar atop your shoulders/upper back as in traditional Barbell Squats.
- Perform your dynamic warm-up using just the bar with the box outside the rack.
- Place the box inside the rack.
- Add plates to the bar and set the rack pins at the proper height for safety.
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- Perform the movement using form similar to the traditional Squat: extend your hips and slightly arch your lower back (do not round it).
- Position your feel slightly wider than shoulder-width and point them out slightly diagonally.
- Slowly lower (2 count) until your hips touch the box.
- Pause between 1 and 2 seconds at the bottom without rocking; maintain free Squat form, leaning slightly forward.
- Explode up. Rapidly drive your hips and legs off the box to return to start position (1 count).
- Keep your core tight throughout the exercise.
- Sets/Reps: 3×10
Note: When you touch the box at the bottom of the Squat, you should be in an athletic stance. Do not excessively lean forward. It’s tempting to sit on the box and lean back too far with your back straight, but this is dangerous.
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Next workout, add 5-pound plates to the bar and continue practicing the movement with good technique. Gradually increase the resistance with each workout—box inside the rack and pins set at an even level at the bottom of the Squat.
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Incorporate Box Squats with traditional Squats, Multidirectional Lunges, Step-Ups, Burpees, Squat Thrusts, Single-Leg Squats, and Leg Presses to get bigger, stronger and faster, and enhance your lower-body power. Combine Box Squats and these other lower-body exercises with upper-body and core-strengthening exercises for full-body workouts on non-consecutive days to allow for adequate recovery.
Additional Box Squat Benefits
Box Squats can effectively be used to teach athletes and non-athletes how to correctly execute free Squats by adjusting the box level depending on the individual’s size/height.
Along with Wall Squats, they can also serve as an alternative to regular Barbell Squats for those who have difficulty doing Barbell Squats. Besides boosting power, Box Squats also build size (like free Squats).
Pausing and briefly sitting on the box at the bottom (in contrast to regular free Squats without a box) better engages the hamstrings and glutes. And that increased lower-body power can transfer to strength gains, so you’re using more resistance when you do traditional squats.